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The chairman appointed commissioners Brent Nickle as chairman, Hershel Howell and J. E. Wolfe to serve as a channelization committee of the commission to work with the Public Relations Department on channelization.
On motion of Mr. Treppendahl, the meeting was recessed at 5:15 p.m.
The meeting was reconvened at 9:15, June 3, with the following present: Chairman R. C. Cook, Jr., Vice Chairman Marshall Treppendahl, Commissioners Tom Cleveland, Billy Covington, Kirby Faucette, Hershel Howell, Sam Morse, Brent Nickle, Tom Riddell, Jr., and J. E. Wolfe, and Executive Director Billy Joe Cross.
I certify this is a true copy of the original on file in my office, minute book 11, page 420 this 1st day of June 1971.
BILLY JOE Cross, Director, Game and Fish Commission.
Whereas, the Soil Conservation Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and some other agencies in cooperation with local groups are employing or considering for virtually every significant stream in Mississippi the channelization of those streams as an aid to the drainage of farm lands and for other purposes;
Whereas, a stream channelization project requires the clearing of a right-ofway, sometimes up to 100 feet, on each side of the stream, thereby necessitating the cutting down of trees in order to permit access by heavy dredging equipment to deepen the stream bed and straighten its sides and in order to provide an area for disposal of the soil taken from the bottom and sides of the stream;
Whereas, the cutting down of such trees and the channelizing of the stream must of necessity destroy the scenic and most recreational values of the stream and also the bottomland woods along its banks, which woods when destroyed cannot be replaced except over a great period of time;
Whereas, stream channelization appears the least preferable method of attempting drainage of lands since it runs counter to basic conservation practices that look toward holding back water and planting or preserving trees to retain water in the watershed;
Whereas, in the case of a stream channelization project, erosion arising from the cutting down of the trees and straightening the stream banks must be counteracted and problems of silting and flooding downstream must be alleviated;
Whereas, stream channelization projects destroy natural fish spawning grounds and food supplies as well as habitat for mammals, birds and other forms of wildlife;
Whereas, in determining the cost-benefit ratio of stream channelization projects, the loss to the public arising from the destruction of woodlands is usually not taken into account; and
Whereas, the channelizing of a stream requires the expenditure of relatively large amounts of taxpayers' funds, while in the case of farm lands such funds are at the same time being expended through the soil bank and similar programs for withdrawing other farm lands from production: now, therefore, be it
Resolved, By the Mississippi Game and Fish Commission that this Commission does hereby strongly recommend and urge that stream channelization be discontinued as a method of attempting to drain farm lands or for any other purposes and that, in lieu thereof, the building of water retention structures and the increased use of other water retention practices such as contour planting be employed for those purposes; and be it further
Resolved, That, in evidence of the concern of the commission about this matter, certified copies of this resolution be sent to the Governor of the State of Mississippi, the Secretary of Agriculture of the United States, the State Conservationist of the Soil Conservation Service for the State of Mississippi, the Vicksburg Division and Mobile District Engineers of the U.S. Corps of Engineers, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Southeast Regional Director for the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service, and each of the United States Senators and Representatives from the State of Mississippi.
The undersigned, R. C. Cook, Jr., Chairman of the Mississippi Game and Fish Commission, and Billy Joe Cross, Executive Director of the Mississippi Game and Fish Commission, hereby certifies that the foregoing is a true and correct copy of a resolution adopted by said Commission at its meeting held on May 6, 1969.
Witness My signature this
UPPER QUIVER RIVER AND BLUE LAKE WATERSHED, TALLAHATCHIE COUNTY,
The concern created by the increased amount of drainage and stream channelization in Mississippi has made it necessary that data be accumulated to support claims that these practices be modified and, in some cases, abandoned in the interest of wildlife and other natural resources other than soil.
The report contained herein is an inspection of two of these areas that were to be improved and mitigated for wildlife by the Soil Conservation Service following drainage and their present condition several years following this work.
Wildlife habitat improvements and mitigating measures installed, as written up in the Upper Quiver River and Blue Lake watershed plan of 1963, are as follows:
“Natural food and cover areas will be renovated and wildlife food plantings established in open areas in woodlands, along field borders, and in fence corners. These measures will provide cover and food for farm game species particularly rabbits, bobwhite quail, and mourning doves.
“An auxiliary channel, a levee, and two water flow control devices will be installed in conjunction with the stream channel improvement. The water flow control devices will consist of two corrugated metal weirs with flash boards for managing water levels. These measures will be installed as mitigating measures to insure that the 1,401 acres of existing wildlife habitat can be maintained for this purpose. Without these mitigating measures, the stream channel improvements would drain these areas, thus destroying them for wildlife purposes."
The first of these areas is located approximately 3 to 4 miles southwest of Webb, Miss. It was constructed to replace the natural wetland waterfowl habitat in Staten Brake that was to be drained by the project.
It contains 483 acres enclosed in a levee built around the low side of the area. A water control structure was installed to control the water level and was to be opened and closed at the proper time by the landowner.
The southwest corner of the area had a crop of soybeans harvested from it, but there was no evidence that any had been purposely left for wildlife. There was no water standing on this field.
There was no evidence observed of any planting being made specifically for wildlife on this area. The levee had been allowed to grow up in natural vegetation. This served as habitat for small animals and birds.
Mr. Guy M. Phillips, the Tallaha chie County soil conservationist, and Mr. Raymond Callahan, were present on this inspection.
When it was observed that the valve to the area was wide open 3 days before the duck season opened, Mr. Phillips stated that he could not understand why the landowner had not closed the valve. At a later date another SCS biologist stated that the reason the valve was open was that it would have done no good to close it because another ditch had been dug to drain the area before the water could accumulate at the dam. I did not see this ditch or know of its existence at the time of this inspection.
The second of the two mitigated areas in the Upper Quiver and Blue Lake watershed is located about 5 miles east of Glendora, Miss., and it contains 918
This area is also a wetland habitat that contains water the year round. It was maintained in its present condition by the landowner before the project was started. The only change from the original state of this area was the installation of a SCS approved floodgate in the ditch. This floodgate is properly maintained and controlled by the landowner.
E. W. COLEMAN,
May 29, 1964. REGIONAL DIRECTOR, U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Sport Fisheries
and Wildlife, Peachtree-Seventh Building, Atlanta, Ga. Dear Sir: We have carefully reviewed your report concerning the current survey and planning by the Corps of Engineers for the Yazoo backwater project levee, Steele Bayou to Deer Creek, and Deer Creek to Big Sunflower River, and for canals connecting the Sunflower and Steele Bayou backwater sump areas. We concur with your report and recommendations generally but we do not endorse or approve of all the proposed construction. We strongly object to plans to channel through Six Mile and totally destroy this high quality fishing lake. You will recall the destruction to the Kilby Lakes and the serious damage to Five Mile Lake by similar channelization and resulting siltation caused by the lower auxiliary channel and farm ditch construction. In our opinion economic self-interest provocation is not a satisfactory excuse for destruction of Six Mile Lake. In the ecological sense it cannot be right to continue to destroy such wetland game and fish habitat to benefit another resource group.
We also object to this type of segment review of project plans as construction phases advance. This may be necessary but in consideration of the alarming amount of clearing of fish and wildlife habitat in the past 10 years resulting from drainage and channelization completed, and in anticipation of the backwater project completion, the entire project should be subjected to another thorough conscientious review for the purpose of more currently evaluating the total backwater project impact on the stability of the lower delta community.
We have been concerned about the low-water stages of the Big Sunflower River caused by upstream channelization which has affected water rights established under State law for the pumping operations in connection with our public waterfowl hunting area below Cypress Bend. The 70-foot minimum sump elevation should be a primary consideration with floodgates designed for planned, annual manipulation within the channels, river runs, and sump areas so that some effective water management can be done for the benefit of fish and wildlife.
We note that there has been accelerated clearing of land within the proposed sump areas in the last few years, principally west of the Little Sunflower, east of Twelve Mile Lake, and adjacent to the Delta National Forest lands. Fee title land acquisition for public use and access in the back water project sump areas will become more difficult and expensive, if not impossible, the longer it is delayed. Very truly yours,
John P. CAMP, Jr.,
\r. VANDER JAGT (presiding). Thank you very much Mr. Turcotte,
We will hold our questions and move on to the next witness. Mr. Wilbur Boldt, deputy commissioner, North Dakota Game and Fish Department. STATEMENT OF WILBUR BOLDT, DEPUTY COMMISSIONER, NORTH
DAKOTA GAME AND FISH DEPARTMENT Mr. BOLDT. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I am Wilbur Boldt, deputy commissioner of the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.
I am here to tell you of our department's concern orer the destruction of North Dakota's wildlife habitat. Over the past two decades, changes in land use have greatly reduced our State's wildlife base. Pothole drainage, woodland clearing, new impoundments, highway construction, and clean farming are but a few changes in North Dakota’s landscape that have destroyed wildlife habitat.
The altering of natural streams and water courses to make them carry more water at a faster rate, is presently causing our greatest losses. These activities are being planned and/or carried out by such Federal agencies as the Soil Conservation Service and the Corps of Engineers, as well as State and county water management agencies.
Presently, the most active program of channelization in North Dakota is carried out by the Soil Conservation Service through its small watershed program financed by Public Law 566 and by its technical assistance to State and local agencies developing legal drains. As of December 1, 1970, there have been 638.97 miles of channels planned, with 240.42 miles of these completed and 39.90 under construction through the watershed program.
The Soil Conservation Service is normally asked to participate in several legal drains each year. The Corps of Engineers has been asked to assist in channelization of some streams not eligible for assistance under the watershed program. At this time, no construction has started on any major corps channel project. The Rush River project however, has been approved for construction by the Chief of Engineers This project would consist of enlarging and straightening 17.3 miles of the lower branch of the Rush River and 7.5 miles of a southern tributary of the lower branch of the Rush.
Channelization adversely affects two major types of wildlife habitat: woodlands and wetlands. By straightening and deepening a stream, the river bottom ecosystem is destroved. Clearing and resultant spoil banks destroy the woodland habitat immediately adjacent to the stream. The remaining woodland of the area is generally cleared and farmed after the flooding is taken care of. North Dakota has the lowest percentage of woodland acres of any of the 50 States. Wooded bottom lands not only furnish habitat for deer and other forms of valuable wildlife, but also are some of the most beautiful areas in North Dakota. We can ill afford to lose additional woodland acres, either by channelization or inundation.
The loss of wetlands due to channelization is even more disastrous. Channelization is engineered and developed in two forms: either it follows a well-defined stream with the oxbows cut off and/or removed and the remainder of the stream widened or deepened, of it follows the gradient of an otherwise poorly drained area. By following such a gradient, all wetlands in the channel's path are subject to drainage. In addition to the wetland losses along the channel, the construction of such channels opens the way for additional drainage by individual farmers seeking to turn their wetlands into cropland.
It has been said that these Federal agencies should mitigate any losses to wildlife caused by their activities. “Mitigate” means only to make less severe. It doesn't say how much. You can be sure that some sponsors of channelization projects are going to fight to keep mitigation to a minimum. Such mitigation usually requires that certain lands be kept out of agricultural production. Even though all of us-SCS, local sponsors, and game and fish-may attempt to mitigate or even replace lost river-bottom habitat, it is impossible toreplace a perpetual river-bottom ecosystem by artificial means.
The value of wetlands in North Dakota is often disputed by agriculturalists. We believe, however, that the public values of natural wetlands far outweigh their values for private gain. Wetlands furnish habitat for migratory waterfowl and other wildlife resources; help reduce runoff, soil and wind erosion; contribute to improved water quality and reduce stream sedimentation; contribute to improved subsurface moisture; and enhance the natural beauty of the landscape.
We feel that federally sponsored channelization is in no way synonymous with good water management. Channels furnish an opportunity for private landowners to drain their wetlands, thus destroying these areas and their benefits. Channelization merely transfers the flood problem further downstream. Rushing the water off one piece of land generally creates problems that can only be solved by additional channelization or by huge Federal dams.
We wish to emphasize that our opposition to channelization does not mean that we are opposed to flood control. We feel that most flood problems can be controlled without destroying the State's precious little natural environment. Flood plain zoning, enforcement of the State's drainage laws, soil conservation measures that hold the water close to the place it falls, acquisition of drainable wetlands by the State and Federal Government, and implementation of the Water Bank Act on a large-scale basis are a few measures that should be